Cross-cutting theme lead: Catherine Harmer
The mechanisms underlying successful treatment in psychiatry are relatively unknown and unintegrated. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry has lost confidence in developing novel treatments for mental health disorders, motivated by the low rates of success across drug development.
Experimental medicine models aim to address this by uncovering key underlying processes, which are targeted by established treatments. It is increasingly recognised by the pharmaceutical industry that the introduction of experimental medicine models can:
- overcome the limitations of preclinical screening models.
- de-risk drug development.
- increase the success of identifying successful treatments in subsequent randomised control trials (RCT).
At Oxford we have established expertise and infrastructure in this area. We can add strength and depth to our core Oxford Health BRC Research Themes by developing an experimental structure for testing of new treatments for mental disorders. Experimental medicine has the potential to bring great benefit to patients and the public through increased availability of diverse treatments.
- Enable early identification and testing of new treatments for mental and cognitive disorders.
- Enhance our experimental medicine capability and capacity.
- Harmonise activities in experimental medicine across core themes.
- Transform the methodology and structure for informed decision making about novel treatment development and RCT design.
- Provide a method for predicting and refining treatment for individuals with mood and anxiety disorders.
- Roll out our experimental medicine models to the pharmaceutical industry and the wider research community.
- Formulate precision models for combined pharmacological and psychological treatments.
How will we achieve this?
- Our framework will be used to understand mechanisms of treatments across core themes.
- Focus on the early effects of therapeutic interventions, often seen before changes in symptoms.
- Examine the influence of mood stabilising medication, psychological interventions, and novel compounds for the treatment of bipolar disorder.
- Evaluate the ability of our measures to predict therapeutic benefit in mood and anxiety disorders from baseline and early treatment change assessments.
- Test the potential for a wide range of factors to predict patient benefit using mathematical and computational models.
- Reduce the barriers between psychological and pharmacological treatments using an integrative framework.
- Explore the way in which treatments work in different intervention approaches.
- Build a robust and informative model which offers predictions for whether psychological, drug or a combination treatment is most appropriate.
- Develop bespoke combination treatments.
- Conduct early phase testing of combinatorial therapy.
- Work together with industry to test new compounds using existing agreements and research structure.
For researchers interested in working within the Clinical Research Infrastructure and Experimental Medicine theme, please contact Liliana.Capitao@psych.ox.ac.uk.